Wednesday, August 29, 2012

People Who Need People

“People who need people are the luckiest people in the world,” sings Barbra Streisand on an album that used to be on loop in tape format on any road trip my parents would take. I would be in the backseat, and I would want to hear that song, and the entire tape again, and then again. 

No matter how hard I try, I can’t do anything alone. Some people might see it as a weakness, and wonder why I cannot stand up alone on my own two feet.

The truth is I can, and I do, stand up on my own two feet. It’s just a lot easier, and more rewarding, with the help of friends, or colleagues, around me. 

Have you ever noticed how many of the ordinary joys in our lives are made possible because of other people? Here are just a few in the last couple days:

  • Learning a wine company I support is now in Southern Nevada, from one of the people who work at the company. The great part is that this wine, ONE HOPE, donates 50% of its profits to charity. Needless to say, I was overjoyed about the convenience, and more so, that I could share it with more people.
  • Collaborating with a colleague on a mini news open to enhance our Hurricane, now Tropical Storm, Isaac coverage.
  • Spending time chatting with a friend, who is also a colleague, about life, in general, when she stopped in for a visit while on maternity leave.
  • Communicating with one of my closest confidantes about the ordinary joys and blessings in her life, and celebrating along with her.
  • Sympathizing with honesty with someone who is experiencing something similar to what I’ve gone through in my life, and offering some encouragement. 
  • Thanking someone who encouraged me, and does still. 

The ordinary joy with friends, colleagues, and everyday people, remind me the importance of stopping to encourage someone else, and be humble. That is, to make a conscious effort to think of others more than myself. 

Romans 15:2 (NIV)
Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Still Think It's a Coincidence?

Manifest destiny is something I learned about in eighth grade. If you don’t remember, here’s a brief history lesson:

It’s the belief that the United States was destined to spread across the North American continent. 

The phrase, manifest destiny, meant different things to different people, but to mid-19th Century Democrats, it meant that something was “pre-arranged by God.” 

Lately, I have identified what feels like manifest destiny, happenstance, serendipity, providence, coincidence, or, simply, a “God moment”

A person has to be sitting right down smack in their faith to see a “coincidence” as God, or for non-Christians, as some sort of Higher Power.

This could be meeting the love of your life in a dog park, getting a new job after meeting someone on a per-chance flight across the country, or buying a new house because it came on the market the day you went to look at it. 

“I didn’t know we were friends,” I still remember being dumbfounded after my college roommate and I realized we were friends in the Spring of 1999. It wasn’t an active process, it just happened. We woke up one day and realized it. 

Still think it’s a coincidence?

On Friday, I was prepared to be called into work to produce a late evening newscast. I did get called into work, and about thirty minutes later, I was told I didn’t need to come in anymore. 

My day went on as scheduled with run-of-the-mill doctor’s appointments, manicure, and multiple texting conversations filled with “tiny coincidences.”

I came home and opened up Facebook and the second I did, a co-worker who I had never spent time with outside of work posted she was going to hear a Pastor speak at the Church I just happen to attend.

Here’s where it get’s interesting. The name of the Pastor, James MacDonald, was not known to me until just one day earlier. It would not have been known to me at all if another friend had not mailed me a two-part CD sermon by that same Pastor. The topic of that is forgiveness. 

I just received it in the mail this week and had listened to the first part on Thursday night.

So, I reserved a seat and met my co-worker at this event and heard the message. 

Still think it’s a coincidence?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Small Words, Big Meaning

“On a day when I’d normally only see the negatives, all I see are the positives,” says a text message I sent a friend tonight.

If you’re like me, you probably have days in which you cannot wait until they are over. Maybe a coworker said something, or did something, to rub you the wrong way. Maybe the deadlines are adding up and you feel like there is no way you’re going to to get anything done. Or, maybe, your performance feels so under pressure that there is no way, at least you think, that anyone believes you did a good job. 

Today could very well have easily been one of those days, for me. 

At some point, without much awareness, that changed.

For starters, I drove to work in the rain without any working windshield wipers. It’s like driving through a river, I told my mom.

Then, when I finally got to work, which was earlier than usual, I didn’t have my badge to get into the building. 

Right when I walked through the door, I knew it was going to be a different day. The assistant to our “big boss” was at the front desk. 

She said, “Oh, I”ll let her in.” 

Small words, but big meaning. 

The way the rest of the day unfolded may have normally felt like one big chaotic event. I work in television news, and the President was in town. My job was to produce our on-air coverage of President Barack Obama’s speech. That was great, until it started thundering and lightning and weather developed.

The rest of the day turned into what could have been one gigantic gloomy mess.

Yet, because the simple four words said to me at the beginning of the day, all I could see was the positives. That's not all that happened, but it certainly started it off right. 

I left work with a smile on my face, proud of my colleagues - all of them, and delighted to return to work the next day.

There may have been dark clouds in the sky, but there weren’t any tears here. 

What’s the lesson? Perspective is everything. That, and, just one person and the very few words they say can have an incredible impact on your entire day.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Joy is Contagious

Starting today, I look at birthdays differently. 

At 12, 19, 29, and even just last year, I looked at birthdays as a reason to hear from people, and "be loved." Sometimes, the cards, phone calls, emails, and now texts, came from people I never expected. 

While it’s a blessing to have people remember me on my birthday, I suddenly see it as an opportunity to take that blessing and give it right back. This is a new vantage point and it emerged at some point overnight, two nights ago.

“Some special people make the world brighter just by being in it...” Or, so says a card someone sent me for my birthday. I thought, what a wonderful message! 

Birthdays can serve as an opportunity to rebirth a friendship, a close relationship, or just nurture the acquaintanceships that circle our lives. 

It’s not about me. It’s about you and me, and how we interact. 

It’s my birthday, and while I am celebrating it as the day I came into this world, my hope is to celebrate life each day. More than that, I want to celebrate each one of you, my friends, everyday, for two are better than one and joy is contagious. 

“If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. 
But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” 
~ Ecclesiastes 4:10 ~

“Your friends help define both what is normal and what is possible.” 
~ Jud Wilhite, July 1, 2012 ~

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Encouraging Life Moments

If you’re anything like me, you have your share of doubts and unsettling uncertainty. 

Perhaps you have started a new job, or just had a baby, or maybe you just started dating someone.

It’s always a startling start, no matter how much we wanted to start somewhere new or meet someone new. 

Sometimes, the intimidation of that newness we so crave prevents us from seeing what we were good at to arrive at that new spot in the first place. 

Earlier this week, I found myself on the delivering end of encouragement and it was a position I was glad to be in, and in fact I am quite comfortable in that position. It may possibly be the greatest thing someone can do for someone else. 

Then, today, I received something in the mail that gave me encouragement I didn’t even know I needed. 

In conversation, unexpected and needed encouragement often goes like this, with the following phrases from the encourager:
“They [people you didn’t suspect] really like you!”
“You’re one of my top students!”
“I believe in you.” 
"You are great at what you do."
“I think you are a great teacher. 
Then, the response from that person who needs the encouragement is almost always:
“I didn’t know that!”

Am I wrong?
I find I either burst it aloud, or feel it inside. 

The thing is, what our encourager tells us is something we know but don’t believe until we hear it from them (ok, and maybe one or two other people). 

What happens next is natural, we start doing “better” at what we were told we were already good at, developing “better” relationships with the people we “didn’t know” liked us, and become “better” educators and students. 

The reward is a two-way street. 

Never miss the opportunity to encourage someone else. 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

It's How We Get Up

“It’s not in how you fall down, it’s how you get up,” a friend reminded me recently. That’s a statement that has been said in different variations by many people for years. It’s true.

Many people equate grace with religion and think of it as entirely spiritual, which it is, but it also isn’t. It is emotional and arrives in different forms and in ways we may not realize.

 My Grandma, who passed away in December 2006, instilled in me that grace is always there.

I believe it comes in the form of blessings, including ones we often ignore. It can come in big or small packages, from friends, family, or people we encounter just once. Sometimes we recognize it, and sometimes we don’t. 

Grace Redefined is about the everyday grace we may not recognize, wisdom to help us become better versions of ourselves and who God wants us to be, and acknowledging and learning from our mistakes, weaknesses and doubts. 

It’s not in how we fall, or if we fall, or how many times we fall, it’s that we do get back up. 

Grace comes from the heart and we apply it to life.